TIMMINS, ON: Northern College’s Board of Governors voted unanimously earlier this week to invest well over $7 million dollars in building restoration, renewal and expansion on all four of the College’s campuses in Northeastern Ontario.
Projects including replacing frosted, cracked windows into clear, energy-efficient ones (Kirkland Lake), replacing brick facing (Kirkland Lake), installing ventilation systems into trade shops for carpentry (Moosonee), renovating and expanding Vet Sciences labs (Haileybury), restoring the building envelope outside the Innovation Hub (Timmins), and the planting of a Sacred Garden with Indigenous medicines and outside gathering spaces (Timmins). These and many other projects are included in the considerable capital project submission. The College will be covering all of the costs of the projects without debt.
“What we have learned over the past year is that as much as we can achieve learning via distance education efficiently and effectively, there is nothing like the energy created when we gather in the same space physically,” stated Dr. Audrey J. Penner, President and CEO of Northern College of the investment. “We want to prepare for everyone being reunited in our Northern spaces on each of our beautiful waterfront campuses that extend as far north as James Bay – Ontario’s only ocean-front campus. These renovations and restorations will help us welcome everyone back when this pandemic ends so that we can be together again.”
Investing in the North continues to be a strategic direction of the College, with invigorating Northern Experiences as one of the three goals of the organization released in a plan unveiled earlier this year, along with Indigenous empowerment and education and innovative approaches to access.
“We are proud to be North, and proud to be Northern,” says Doug Walsh, Chair of the Board of Governors at Northern College who was present as the approval of the motion to invest in the College to this extent was voted on unanimously. “We are seeing a greater number of learners and others wanting to move north from highly congested areas in southern regions of the province, and we have lots of room for them here,” he added. “The quality of life we have in Northern Ontario is unmatched, and we welcome newcomers and others so that they can help grow the region and be inspired to learn as they change their lives for the better.”
Plans for the renovations have begun and will be staged in phases to follow physical distancing requirements. The campus buildings have had very light usage for the most part over the last year, other than those hybrid training classes where small groups spread out to learn hands-on applications.
Northern was one of a select few post-secondary pilots that the Ministry had chosen to undertake physical distancing last summer, as it implemented strict protocols early on with innovative and ingenious ways to use equipment and still remain safe with on-site learning.
“Our staff, faculty and students have shown us that their passion for learning is unfettered and they will do what they can to continue succeeding in their studies. We are proud of the accomplishments of everyone as we approach the end of another academic year that culminates with Convocation on June 11,” stated Dr. Penner. “It is our hope that next spring, we will be celebrating together in the newly refurbished buildings and spaces with renewed energy, excitement and hope.”
“By investing like we are with these capital projects,” adds Mr. Walsh, “We will support the dedicated and caring people who will fill our buildings once again. Renewed campus spaces will lift the spirits of those who have been working and studying in their homes at their dining room tables, couches, and offices. We hope that everyone can take a moment to close their laptops, start up their cars for the first time in a long time, or board busses, and return to connect in the spaces where they can join one another in person and begin a new chapter for all of us that involves being happy and healthy together in close proximity to one another for the first time in a long time.”
Northern College will continue to share its physical spaces with community members, as well, as campus facilities such as the 400-person acoustically-enhanced auditorium with plush seating at Kirkland Lake and many other spaces on various Northern College campuses provide gathering spaces for towns and citizens throughout the region.
The College mission is founded on its commitment to building partnerships with local and regional workplaces that create opportunities for students that help fill positions in the workforce, continuing to ensure the continued well-being of each community it serves.
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